The plane due to take migrants to Rwanda will not leave the UK as scheduled after last-minute interventions by the European Court of Human Rights. Government sources have confirmed to the Press Association news agency that all migrants have been removed from the plane which was set to take off on Tuesday night.
The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that it had granted an urgent interim measure in regards to an Iraqi national, and it is understood the Court was considering a number of further requests. PA understands that the appeals were considered by an out-of-hours judge on papers, overruling the UK rulings.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was disappointed the flight to Rwanda was not able to leave but would not be “deterred from doing the right thing”, adding: “Our legal team are reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparation for the next flight begins now.”
It is understood that, at the present time, there is not a route for the Home Office to appeal against the decision. Earlier, Boris Johnson suggested lawyers representing migrants were “abetting the work of criminal gangs” as last-ditch court hearings took place.
The Prime Minister had insisted the Government would not be deterred from its policy, despite criticism from the Church of England and reportedly also from the Prince of Wales.
Mr Johnson acknowledged there had been criticism of the plan from “some slightly unexpected quarters” but highlighted the legal profession as the main source of opposition to the Rwanda policy, which will send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation.
As things stood early on Tuesday evening, just seven people were due to be on board the plane following a string of legal challenges and Home Office reviews.
Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon said: “Whilst we are relieved to hear the flight to Rwanda did not take off as planned tonight, it is clear that the Government remain determined to press on with this deal – leaving us to continue to witness the human suffering, distress, and chaos the threat of removal will cause with far reaching consequences for desperate people who are simply in need of safety.
“The fact that the final flight could not take off is indicative of the inhumanity of the plan and the Government’s complete refusal to see the face behind the case.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: “We’re pleased the courts have ruled to stop this flight.
“It’s time for the Government to stop this inhumane policy which is the basest of gesture politics and start to engage seriously with sorting out the asylum system so those who come to our country seeking refuge are treated fairly and according to the law.”
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